Côte d’Ivoire seeks to expand e-commerce

27 February 2020

Country assesses its e-trade readiness with the support of UNCTAD and Germany.

Côte d’Ivoire has partnered with UNCTAD and Germany to assess its readiness for e-commerce. The assessment seeks to identify opportunities, challenges and actions required to improve the e-commerce ecosystem in the country.

An assessment mission led by UNCTAD in collaboration with the Universal Postal Union, International Trade Centre and Consumers International is slated for 2 to 6 March in the capital, Abidjan.

“E-commerce development is a true opportunity that our country must seize, with a view to developing a national strategy that will help the private sector and our people reap the benefits of the digital economy,” said Souleymane Diarrassouba, the country’s minister of commerce and industry.

The assessment of Côte d’Ivoire is funded by the German government, which has supported similar assessments in several least developed countries (LDCs) since 2017.

African digital entrpreneurs

“The resulting report will serve as a valuable input to Côte d’Ivoire’s national development plans, government and private sector initiatives on e-commerce and the digital economy,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics.

Côte d’Ivoire’s assessment is UNCTAD’s second non-LDC one (after Iraq in 2019) and the first non-LDC to be funded by Germany.

“Many developing countries want to profit from the possibility of digitalization and engage in e-commerce, but they often don’t know where to start. E-trade readiness assessments are the perfect starting point,” said Stephan Bethe, head of the trade division at Germany’s federal ministry for economic cooperation and development.

He said the assessments enable countries to design appropriate strategies to further advance in digital trade.

In December, Germany committed €1.6 million (US$1.76m) over three years to UNCTAD’s work programme on e-commerce and the digital economy.

Dynamic economy

Côte d’Ivoire is one of the most dynamic economies in west Africa, but some challenges hamper the expansion of e-commerce in the country.

Its eTrade readiness assessment will examine the maturity of the e-commerce ecosystem, facilitate cross-ministerial understanding and public-private sectors dialogue to boost the country’s capacity to engage in e-commerce.

The assessment is scheduled to kick off with a high-level policy dialogue that will bring together public and private sector actors to discuss measures needed to unlock the potential of e-commerce for development.

The dialogue will be followed by a series of thematic discussions on the main policy areas related to e-commerce.

UNCTAD will conduct the assessment in collaboration with the Ivorian ministry of commerce and industry and the ministry of post and digital economy, which have already identified some bottlenecks related to trade logistics, data protection and ICT skills development.

Using an enhanced methodology, the assessment will build on UNCTAD’s close collaboration with its partner organizations that will support the Ivorian government in implementing the assessment’s recommendations and strengthen synergies within the development community.

The assessment will build upon the partnerships established by the eTrade for all initiative, which brings together close to 30 public and private sector organizations.